Ashley and the HS2

Ashley Parish Council has resolved to oppose the HS2

For a foretaste of things to come, click on each of the photographs on the left a couple of times.
These photographs show the progress of the HS2 from Lamb Lane to the Mobberley Road Bridge

This page contains a lot of detail and it may become a chore to read. However, the devastation to be wreaked upon the area warrants some close attention.

The Chris Packham Stop HS2 Petition Debate

Naturalist Chris Packham MBE petitioned Parliament to stop HS2 and repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Dept of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It failed to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.

The petition closed on 17th June 2021 and attracted 155,252 signatures. Interestingly, every single area of the UK attracted signatures (including the Shetland Isles!) - as can be shown by clicking on the petition link below and then clicking on the map option

The Chris Packham Petition

As the petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures parliament was obliged to have a debate on its contents. The debate took place on 13th October and the link is below. Note that Esther McVey's contribution is at approximately 59:00

The Petition Debate

Mid Cheshire Against HS2

The Mid-Cheshire Against HS2 (MCAHS2) group, whilst not directly involved with the issues in the Ashley area, has created a video which is very informative about the destruction to our precious Cheshire environment and ecosystems caused by HS2- well worth a watch!!


Ashley Parish Council's Meeting with HS2 on 30th November 2020
and Subsequent Actions

The HS2 Subgroup for HS2 had a virtual meeting/presentation with HS2 personnel to receive feedback regarding the outcome of the Design Refinement Consultation which closed in September 2019 (details can be found HERE).

This meeting coincided with a public consultation entitled 'HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation' which opened on 7th October 2020 and closed on 11th December 2020. The consultation introduced 4 proposed refinements to the design of the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.

The four areas of refinement refer to:

  • A new Crewe Northern Connection and changes to the design of the Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot
  • Changes to the design around Manchester Airport High Speed Station
  • Changes to the design around Manchester Piccadilly High Speed Station
  • The introduction of a new trains stabling facility at Annandale, in Dumfries and Galloway

As can be seen from the above, changes to the Ashley stage of the route, although significant, were not been included. Ashley was able to make comment upon the new map at the meeting but the comments would not be taken into account as part of a formal consultation. In effect HS2 had presented the public with a fait accompli.

The documents and maps associated with the HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation are:

The HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Document
The Full Map Book
The Ashley Area
The Rostherne Area

HS2 Affects All Ashley Residents and Many Nearby Areas

What is not immediately apparent is the effect the HS2 will have on every resident in Ashley, plus surrounding areas, especially during its construction.

Some of the disruptions that Ashley village will endure are:

  • Road closures, realignments and diversions
  • Main line rail closures
  • Constant movement of thousands of heavy construction traffic throughout the village
  • The construction of a massive Infrastructure Maintenance Base-Rail (IMBR) which is a permanent facility for maintaining the HS2 track and the track base
  • Floodlighting of the IMBR as necessary
  • The creation of temporary railheads (similar to railway sidings) which will exist during the construction of the HS2 line
  • Office blocks, multi-storey car parks and accommodation blocks for HS2 workers
  • The creation of construction and satellite compounds wherever they are most convenient for contractors
  • Noise and air pollution during construction which will be floodlit.
  • Constant noise once the HS2 is operational
  • Many permanent stanchions on an embankment which will, in total, stand approximately 15-16 metres in height (c50+ feet) and will be visible for miles around

The Prime Minister has given the HS2 Railway the Go Ahead

It was announced on February 12th 2020 that the Prime Minister has given the go ahead for the first part of the HS2 railway from London to Birmingham and on to Crewe.

He committed to both the London to Birmingham rail line and the next phase from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, saying he would integrate the project with Northern Powerhouse Rail, a wider scheme which included a fast link between Leeds and Manchester.

However, the Prime Minister stated that he would want a review of the northern phase of HS2 (which affects Ashley) as he believed that the route had not necessarily been well thought out, nor was it fully cost effective. Currently there is no additional information about the proposed review but Ashley Parish Council will ensure that residents are informed once the information is released

Below are a number of articles which may be of interest:

HS2 Phase 2B Design Refinement Consultation 2019

Ashley Parish Council's response to the HS2 Consultation can be found Here

The Consultation has now closed but the Secretary of State for Transport's announcement about 11 proposed design refinements to the HS2 Phase 2B route is extremely concerning for Ashley

The HS2 Phase 2b Design Refinement Consultation.This link takes you to links to all the documents for the 11 proposed design refinements. It also contains a link to the online response option, which can be found after all the maps. It is not possible to save the link locally on this website)

The documents below have been extracted from the HS2 website and are those that contain information about changes in Ashley

Below is a summary of the lates proposals from HS2 and some alternative solutions from the Council

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The Proposals

The latest proposals from HS2 will result in the railway line being built on an embankment which, in part and including the gantries, will be approximately 16 metres / 50 feet in height. It will intersect Ashley and will be an eyesore which will be seen for many miles around.

In addition, the proposals will split Ashley into two with Ashley Road being blocked off near Stock Farm. It is intended that a permanent maintenance facility will be built which will result in noise 24 hours a day.

A temporary railhead will also be built close to Sugar Brook Farm. Temporary in this context is for a period of 7 years to facilitate the building of the railway itself. This facility will be floodlit and in operation 24 hours a day during construction

The roads in Ashley will be virtually gridlocked by the immense number of heavy lorries required to bring equipment etc. to the village. Even HS2 admits that there will be considerable noise and disruption in Ashley. What HS2 hasn't addressed is how Ashley's roads will cope with the traffic.

There will also be a new road from Ashley Road which will join Mobberley Road in a T junction and will require realignment of Mobberley Road resulting in the loss of a significant amount of extra land.

It is also proposed that HS2 should join up with the Northern Powerhouse.

There are other less than pleasant aspects of the latest proposals in Ashley but the above are probably the ones which have the greatest impact

The Alternatives

Ideally, HS2 should not come through Ashley at all but, as this is but a dream, the alternatives to having the railway on an embankment would be a tunnel through the village or the railway being constructed in a cutting. Although a tunnel would be the best solution there are many reasons, including cost and engineering limitations, why we are told this would not be possible.

Therefore, Ashley Parish Council is strongly in favour of putting the railway in a cutting. The Council has been in talks with HS2 and has stressed its objection to any solution other than a cutting. Unfortunately HS2 has not been totally consistent in their reasons for favouring an embankment. One reason given was that Network Rail refused to allow HS2 to tunnel under the existing railway to accommodate the cutting; another was the prohibitive cost - approximately an additional £50 million, although this figure could not be verified (i.e. it is a guesstimate!!)

It has also been stated that if another required railhead near Stone in Staffordshire was efficiently placed, there would be no need for a railhead or maintenance facility in Ashley. The Council is pursuing this with urgency.

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Documents and Links of Interest

How HS2 might look   Some random examples of viaducts and embankments - not necessarily for Ashley

Property Blight and the HS2   Although this document was published in 2010, it is still very relevant

Woodland Trust's Community Resources  Of all the documents on this page, this is the one that we in Ashley should regard as one of the most important because it describes the destruction of the ecological balance, the irreparable toll on widlife and concerns about the massive loss of ancient woodlands

An Old Map   This map is extracted from page 55 of a document published in 1996 which shows proposed high speed train routes in the UK and which tends to suggest that HS2 was born of this decision . The full European Parliament document, Decision No 1692/96/EC, is included below, but be warned - it is a lengthy document

Decision No 1692/96/EC